Park Tae-hwan, Sun Yang upstaged by Kosuke Hagino

September 21, 2014

Asian Games 200-meter freestyle

From left, silver medalist China's Sun Yang, gold Japan's Kosuke Hagino and bronze South Korea's Park Tae-hwan  pose for  photo on the podium after the men's 200-meter freestyle swimming final at the 17th Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea,  Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014.(AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

From left, silver medalist China’s Sun Yang, gold Japan’s Kosuke Hagino and bronze South Korea’s Park Tae-hwan pose for photo on the podium after the men’s 200-meter freestyle swimming final at the 17th Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014.(AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

South Korea’s superstar swimmer Park Tae-hwan settled for bronze in the men’s 200-meter freestyle at the Incheon Asian Games on Saturday, failing in his bid for a third straight Asiad gold in the distance.

Park finished his race in 1:45.85 in the final held at his namesake arena, Munhak Park Tae-hwan Aquatics Center.

Kosuke Hagino of Japan was the surprise winner, finishing the race in 1:45.23.

Sun Yang of China, considered Park’s chief rival, came in second at 1:45.28.

Park was the fastest off the starting blocks with a reaction time of 0.64 seconds. He was the first in the race after the first 50m at 24.57 seconds, with Hagino trailing at 24.71 seconds.

At the half-way turn, it was Sun in the lead at 51.26 seconds, with Park right behind at 51.41 seconds and Hagino further behind at 51.81. Sun touched the 150m point at 1:18.30, only 0.04 second faster than Park and nearly a full second ahead of Hagino.

Then the 20-year-old Japanese kicked into high gear, covering the last 50m in 26 seconds flat to pick up his first Asian Games gold.

Sun’s final 50m lap time was 26.98, and Park was even slower, at 27.51.

Park said he felt extra pressure, because Incheon’s aquatic center is named in his honor, and the prospect of repeating his two previous 200m Asian Games wins was also a daunting prospect.

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